Location: The north side of 73rd Avenue at Osceola Street
Artist: Victoria Ross Patti, Lafayette, Colorado (website)
Year installed: 2016
How acquired: Purchased by the City of Westminster's Public Art cash-in-lieu of sculpture dedication fund
Comments: Lady Catrina is an unusual skeleton woman made of recycled mild steel that has been heated, forged and welded. The recycled steel comes from a local Denver steel supplier that buys steel remnants from large contractors and developers. The sculpture is 86 inches tall, 36 inches wide and 36 inches deep and weighs 170 pounds.
Here’s how Victoria Patti describes her art: "Metal, the most inspiring and challenging substance to appear soft and supple, it is what drives me into my shop every day. What happens when the old renaissance art of blacksmithing is combined with today’s tools and welding technology? A look at my sculptures reveal the delicate balance of the two with curvy embellishments on cold hard steel that has a touch of femininity. The desire is to bring larger than life steel sculptures to public environments. I choose subjects that allow me to embellish detailed scrolls and curves. My goal for the welded cold steel is to make it appear soft, bendable and touchable.
While I was in Mexico years ago I saw clay figurines about 15 inches high called 'Catrina dolls' and I learned the back story of them there too. José Guadalupe Posada was a Mexican illustrator known for his Calaveras, a Spanish word for ‘skulls’, around 1910. He drew a satirical take of European woman dressed in a fancy hat only befitting the upper class, a skeleton underneath the hat. Some interpretations say he was demonstrating that you could have all the fine threads money can buy but you could still be dead inside and have no soul. I was drawn to that message – to not be materialistic and to have more honor/value in your life no matter if you are rich or poor.
I’ve made four of these Catrina Ladies so far and this was my first one. My mother loves antiques and she gave me an antique Victoria dress with the high bust, super thin waist aided by an uncomfortable tight corset and the sway back. I used that as a template for the metal frame underneath. I used my forge and anvil to shape the face of the skeleton, I also used a plasma cutter and MIG welder to fabricate the sculpture.
When closer, the details of the sculpture become apparent such as the smaller blacksmithed scrolls on the bodice of the dress, butterflies on the hat, or the crossed fingers of the hand behind the woman's back. Those delicate details are forged by hand through the art of blacksmithing and added to every piece as eye candy. The fluidity and softness of steel comes alive when it’s been heated to 2000 degrees and the end result is 'soft and curvy.'"